Bondar and Gidman Purchase Shannonville Motorsport Park
Toronto, ON – Shannonville Motorsport Park, the Belleville-area multi-purpose venue that has hosted more rounds of the Mopar CSBK tour than any other track, has been sold. Late Friday afternoon, October 11, it was announced that John Bondar and Steve Gidman had agreed to purchase the track from long-time owner Jean Gauthier.
Belleville, ON, based Bondar operates the Canadian Touring Car Championship, while Gidman is a former ‘80s club racer at S.M.P, who operates a technology business. The track has been for sale since 2014, and Bondar has been in negotiation to purchase the facility for much of that time.
The deal was announced on the 43rd anniversary of the first event held at the venue back on Canadian Thanksgiving Day, 1976 – a motorcycle Regional that completed the Canadian season at the barely-finished six-turn Nelson International Raceway.
Jim Allen won the big race of the day for F-1 bikes on a cold day at Shannonville ‘76, aboard an Egli-Yamaha TZ750 two-stroke. 2015 Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame Inductee Allen crashed his TZ250 twice in a support event the same day and had the turn where both of his tumbles took place named after him!
The track has hosted 57 National Superbike races in the 39-year history of the Series, using three different layouts. The second-ever Canadian National Superbike round took place at S.M.P. in September 1980, at the six turn “Nelson” layout, won by 1980s-star Rueben McMurter of London, ON, on a Kawasaki KZ1000 Mk II.
Later, the renamed Shannonville Motorsport Park hosted races on a much-improved 15 turn “Long Track” configuration, and then switched to the perimeter “Pro” layout in 2005. In May of 2019, Collingwood, ON based Ben Young won the opening race of the 2019 Mopar CSBK National tour at Shannonville, on his way to his first career Superbike overall National roadracing title.
The most successful racer in the history of the Canadian National road racing Championships is Jordan Szoke of Lynden, ON. Szoke has taken the coveted number one plate for overall success in the National series 13 times, and he has 72 career Feature race successes. Szoke has also won at Shannonville more times than any other Pro – he has taken the Superbike counter at S.M.P. seven times and clinched his first number one plate at the circuit in 1998.
Shannonville, located just south of major Highway 401 and east of Belleville, ON, started as a Go-Kart track owned by Toronto-area motorcycle racing insiders Tom Faulds, Don Williams, Harry McCluney and John Nelson.
By 1976, bike shop owner, former racer and team owner Nelson has taken over operations and lengthened the circuit, and although small, it was ready to attract a motivated group of Canadian motorcycle competitors. Soon Shannonville was hosting more than a dozen motorcycle races a year, part of several different Regional series including the big tour of the 1970s, the Quebec-based Brimaco Championship.
Car racer Jack Boxstrom bought the track in 1979, and kept Nelson involved as Track Manager. Soon Boxstrom presided over a major growth period in Canadian motorcycle competition, starting the sanctioning body RACE (initially Roadracing Association Canada East) with Colin Fraser at the completion of the 1980 National season. RACE and the ever-improving Shannonville became the central players in the exploding 1980s National road racing scene.
Raymond David, a car racer and owner of auto and motorcycle (FAST) track schools, purchased the venue in late 1986 and doubled the length of the track, as well as building the signature front straight grandstands. Former top motorcycle competitor Alan Labrosse took over as Manager, with the ever-popular Nelson still involved until his death in 2005.
David’s business associate Jean Gauthier took control of S.M.P. in 1992, leading to the compression of the RACE tour and the eventual departure of Labrosse and Fraser. Labrosse started the ASM Series in Quebec while Fraser joined television producer Dave Hatch to launch what would become the CSBK National tour. Gauthier owned the track longer than anyone else, until the sale yesterday to Gidman and Bondar.
It is expected that Shannonville will host a round in the Mopar CSBK Championship in 2020, for the 40th Anniversary of a series that was helped in its infancy by the launch of the long-serving and bike-friendly Shannonville track.